Christmas markets are a wonderful part of Germany's holiday tradition and a great way to get into the Christmas spirit. Prepare for your mittens to get sticky with Glühwein and to actually enjoy chestnuts roasted over an open fire. Explore each of the best Christmas Markets in Germany and enjoy the country at its most traditional and beautiful.
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Nuremberg (or Nürnberg in German) has an Altstadt filled with fascinating features year-round, but it really lights up for Christmas. The Nuremberg Christmas Market takes place on the main square with a spectacular opening celebration. The Christkind (Christmas Angel), played by a local girl, reads out a prologue from the balcony of the Nuremberg Cathedral and the celebration begins.
First mentioned in 1628, this is one of the country's oldest Weihnachtsmärkte. During the month-long festival, visitors can stroll trough the 180 traditionally decorated huts - more than 30 of which date back to 1890. Most of the goods sold here are locally crafted from quality material, something that is becoming more and more unusual. Locals fondly call the market "our little town of wood and cloth". Make sure to try the little Nuremberg Rostbratwurst and some Lebkuchen (gingerbread cookies).
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If you are looking for the oldest Christmas Market, that lies further north in Dresden. Dresdner Striezelmarkt dates back to 1434 and is also famous for having the world's biggest nutcracker, a massive Christmas pyramid and the largest Stollen (traditional German fruitcake). The world's biggest Striezl (the local term for Stollen) weighs in at 4 tons and measures 13 feet in length and is thrown its very own parade.
Another excellent option in the vicinity is the historic Leipzig Christmas Market. Market-goers are treated to traditional trumpeting from the balcony of the Old Town Hall and there are actually several different areas to turn to including a Finnish and medieval section.
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The Christmas market in Munich, called Christkindlmarkt, is celebrated at Marienplatz in the center of the old town. A huge Christmas tree lights the area and advent music is performed nightly. Look through the hand-crafts like the Bavarian wood carvings and glass crystals and enjoy the seasonal program.
In addition to this market, there is Germany’s largest manger market and nativity scene on Neuhauser Strasse, Christmas parties at Wintertollwood and the fairgrounds where Oktoberfest take place, Theresienwiese, provides concerts and events. Catch a ride on the ChristkindlTram (Christmas Tram) for a themed ride through the city center.
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There is nowhere like Germany for Christmas and Rothenburg's Christmas Markets look like they've jumped right out of a fairy tale. Walk the ramparts of this medieval town with a sweet Schneebälle in hand or make your way through the connected markets of the Altstadt. Go into the Christmas store Käthe Wohlfahrt with three floors of ornaments and decor. The Christmas Museum inside covers tree decorations through the ages, the first Advent calendars and antique Christmas cards.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Cologne may have the largest Christmas market of all with seven Christmas markets running together throughout its city center. The market directly in front of the Cologne Cathedral is lent the grandeur of the city's most well-known landmark as well as one of the largest Christmas trees in the region (the largest Christmas tree in Germany is at Dortmund).
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Berlin's Christmas markets are not always the the best in Germany. They can be quite generic with the same tacky goods as the last market, but that doesn't mean they are all mediocre. There are over 60 different Christmas markets, but for the connoisseur, the historic Christmas market at Gendarmenmarkt, close to Friedrichstraße, is not to be missed. Framed by the illuminated French and German Cathedral, you have to pay a one euro entry to wander the many festive booths or visit the heated craftsmen tent where you can watch toy makers, goldsmiths, and wood carvers at work.
If you can't get enough of the holiday spirit, visit more of Berlin's best Christmas markets at Schloss Charlottenburg, Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt, Berliner Weihnachtszeit at Roten Rathaus, Wintertraum am Alexa, Potsdamer Platz, or the Hanukkah Market at the Jewish Museum.